When asked about the translation of artwork influenced by the atmospheres of Paris and Zurich to the sensibilities of viewers in Beacon, New York, this artist, Juan Manuel Alvarez-Ossa, who was born in Colombia and grew up in the Hudson Valley, enlightens me: “It’s not a question of being provincial or not. I think that when art is art – whether it’s in Paris or London or Tokyo or here in the mid-Hudson area – when you really have something to say, something to convey or communicate, your work will always have an audience. It’s just a question of when the artist is being truthful, not taking one’s self for something else which we are not. As long as we are truthful, trying to tell the reality of our feelings, we will always have an audience.”
Alvarez-Ossa’s work is being exhibited at the Lofts at Beacon Gallery this month and next in a show titled “Of American Perception: Studies.” He explains, “For the last two years, all my exhibitions have come at the end ‘Studies,’ because even though they are fully finished works of art, it is only that whatever we artists do, it always remains an approach to reality. Even when you are taking a picture or videotaping, you cannot take the reality. Pictures give you a flat reality. Film is going to miss something. It doesn’t give you the overall unity. Of ‘American Perceptions’: Over in Europe and all the exhibits I’ve done since ’86, I have been told that my art is ‘very American.’ For this retrospective, I’m going to exhibit nudes, landscapes, flowers, abstractions – I needed something that could convey who I really am.”
He is an early-1970s emigrant who graduated from Beacon High School and pursued Art and Modern Languages with the early goal of becoming a diplomat. In his third year of studying International Relations at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, Alvarez-Ossa traveled to Paris and realized that he preferred the fields of Literature and Art. He completed his degree at the American University in Paris and earned subsequent degrees in Linguistics from l’Université Paris-Sorbonne.
He describes how Hyperrealism as a genre “goes toward a photographic depiction that is so real, people think it’s a picture. But no, it’s just a work of oils and acrylic. I work with trompe-l’oeil. I do interior murals. That work has given me a chance to learn all the techniques that allow me to focus into Hyperrealism. And from there, I have the tendency to go into abstraction: to fake a reality, but work it in such a way that if I change my painting from position, my goal is to break the reality into something else.”
On July 9, the Lofts will host an opening of Alvarez-Ossa’s works on canvas and paper. The artist’s 35 years of living and creating artworks in Paris and his subsequent sojourn in Switzerland continue to inspire him to create art and commissioned work for private and public patrons. Alvarez-Ossa’s work can be viewed online at www.juan-manuel-alvarez-ossa.com and in Beacon through Sunday, August 28. The Lofts at Beacon Gallery keep hours in conjunction with Beacon’s Second Saturday and Open Studios.
“Of American Perceptions: Studies by Juan Manuel Alvarez-Ossa” opening reception, Saturday, July 9, 4-7 p.m., Lofts at Beacon Gallery, 18 Front Street, Beacon; (845) 202-7211, www.loftsatbeacon.com.